The long awaited....by no one but myself....guide to getting signed by a modeling agency!
As I'm sure that you all are aware, I model professionally as my job and get plenty of questions about how to get signed by a modeling agency, how long I've been modeling for, etc. So today, I've decided to give you all some tips that could help you get signed by a modeling agency!
Buckle up, this is a thicker read than my other posts but I tried my best to keep it straight to the point.
Shoot All the Time
If you want to start modeling professionally and you don't think you're the type of model who will have one of the "I got discovered at a concert" or "I got discovered in the grocery store", discovery stories, then you'll need to have a killer portfolio (with at least a few really good images) so that the agents can see how comfortable you are in front of a camera.
Getting comfortable in front of a camera definitely takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. You need to be able to feel when a shot will look good - as in, your body needs to know how it feels when it's in a good pose for the camera's eye. You can always tell when a model is uncomfortable in a shot, confidence wise.
To start off, I recommend posing in front of a mirror so that you can learn how your body moves and how it looks doing certain movements. Not all poses are for every body, you have to learn how to work with your body and how you can achieve great shots! After you've gotten comfortable posing in front of a mirror, you could try getting comfortable with other people taking your photos and moving your body with the camera. Often, the photographer will move with your body, but in many cases, you will need to navigate your body according to the position of the camera or adjust to your setting.
If you're nervous about people watching you while you're modeling, just remember: the only eye that matters, is the camera's. Pretend like it's only you and the camera in the room.
Don't worry, the feeling will become natural with time.
Practice in Front of a DSLR
If you're just getting into modeling, I definitely recommend starting out in front of a phone camera because you can get much quicker shots and the turn around is immediate. Most people have already posed in front of a phone camera so it feels a lot more natural to do so.
However, modeling in front of a DSLR camera feels like a whole other world. Realistically speaking, usually phone photos are used for Instagram and/or super quick shots that need to be taken and probably don't need much editing time. You'd usually be capturing more movement and it would probably be much more casual. On the other hand, DSLR photos are usually taken for professional shoots so they need more precision in posing, editing, and other areas.
The difference in feelings of being in front of a phone camera and a DSLR camera are a bit indescribable but trust me, every model knows exactly what feeling I'm talking about!
Another bonus tip I'd like to point out when shooting with a photographer, is to be friendly with them beforehand - you should always be friendly to everyone but it will definitely pay off if you're friendly to your photographer. Usually, if you've built a little bond with them before you start shooting, they are more likely to tell you when a shot looks good by shouting out a "YES", "KILLER", "WOW!", or another positive phrase of that regard. It's always super helpful to know when you're doing well or if you need to readjust yourself. Building a relationship with your photographer also makes your shoot much more comfortable and exciting!
Take Good Digitals
Your digitals are basically your cover letter, but in picture form. (your portfolio is your resume)
I would like to preface this tip by stating that you should not pay anyone to take your digitals for you - digitals are just simple photos that show the agency what you look like in your natural state. Most agencies specifically request that your photos are non-professional, not touched up in any way, are makeup-free, and that they be taken by someone you know with a phone camera.
The best advice I can give when it comes to taking good digitals is to wait for your skin to be in prime condition, wear tight, all black clothing, and take them with really good lighting. Agencies will usually request that your hair be either down but out of your face or pulled back into a ponytail.
Other than that, show 'em your best natural self!
Research Types of Modeling
When applying to different agencies, it helps to know where they'd see you fit in on their board. Different agencies have different requirements for their modeling sectors so I recommend researching what their requirements are before applying. Most agencies get models applying day and night so they're looking for any and every excuse to weed potential models out to make their decisions easier.
There are a few different modeling types with the main ones being Runway, Commercial, and Print. I'm not going to tell you what you can or can't be, so again, I highly suggest looking at the agency's requirements before applying so that you don't waste your time or get false hope. You can do this but you want to be smart about how you apply yourself!
When looking to apply to modeling agencies, you usually want to start local so that you'd be able to conveniently meet with them, be sent out to castings, and book gigs. Especially when it comes to your first agency, they're usually looking for local models so that they can get you developed as quickly as possible.
Once you have a local agency that has your back, it's much easier to be signed in other states and countries - your agents are constantly working on getting you signed in other markets so that you can work as much as possible!
With that being said, the pandemic has definitely had a major impact on being a model in the industry; it is much more possible to be scouted remotely because most castings are done by self-tapes or remotely in another fashion because of the pandemic's affects. So, shoot your shot!
Yay, you got a meeting with the agents!
This is possibly the most exciting and nerve-racking part of the whole process. However, you got your foot in the door so you just have to bring your A-game when it comes to showing them your personality and how confident you are in yourself.
The meeting is all about showing them your personality - they already know you look good on the outside, now they want to know if you look good on the inside. They will be evaluating your manners, how friendly you are, how adaptable you are to change, and the list goes on.
They will ask you quite a few questions about your current life and availability so be prepared to answer questions in that realm. I also suggest coming prepared with a couple questions that you can ask them just so they know that you are interested and have given the situation deep thought - this will be a major lifestyle change so you will need to assess if you're ready for that.
Social Media Presence
Congrats on being signed!
If your agent(s) hasn't told you yet, the advice is probably on its way. Your social media presence is a direct reflection of the agency you're signed to. Whether you like it or not, clients will be looking at your social media before they've booked you to help decide whether they want to work with you or not. Your social media shows your personality, your interests, and often times, your knowledge of current events (i.e. whether you're staying safe during the pandemic).
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you need to curate a perfect feed and start posting on your Instagram daily, but it helps to have a good reference for clients to see when they're deciding to book you.
Don't Give Up
If you haven't made it to getting that contract of your dreams yet: don't give up - your dreams don't work unless you do! It's super corny, I know, but it's true.
It took me two years into modeling freelance to finally get signed by the mother agency that I'm currently represented by and I'm forever grateful for them.
I hope that you can have the patience with yourself, and the world, to accomplish your dream of becoming a model - good luck!
Rejoice in the Lord always; and I say again, Rejoice.
-- Faith Blackshear